In California, motorcycle accidents reached a peak in 2008, dropped about 16 percent over the next two years, then spiked up again. This spike in motorcycle accidents was particularly high in Los Angeles County which recorded a 49 percent increase in motorcycle accidents since 2003. Experts attributed the increase to more inexperienced riders on the road, as well as years of rising gas prices and a better economy.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle collision, call Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorney Sherwin Arzani today. We offer a free consultation and only get paid if you win.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
A personal injury attorney at Citywide Law Group can interview witnesses, investigate the crime scene, depose all necessary parties, and negotiate on your behalf. In other words, we handle every aspect of your case while you focus on recovering from the accident.
Following your motorcycle accident, it will be important to determine who was liable for the accident—who will pay for your medical expenses, your lost wages, and the damages to your motorcycle? Citywide Law works tirelessly to determine who was at fault for your accident and hold them responsible for your injuries.
How Long Do You Have To File a Motorcycle Injury Claim?
Pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1, the statute of limitations in California is two years for personal injury cases, meaning you have two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury case.
If, however, your injuries did not all come to light until later, there may be exceptions to the statutes of limitations.
Compensation You May Be Entitled to Following Your Motorcycle Accident
After your motorcycle accident, your attorney may determine you are entitled to economic damages, non-economic damages, or both. Economic damages represent the amount you lost as a result of your motorcycle accident. Economic damages are based on actual losses, both present-day, as well as any future expected losses, and include:
- Medical expenses;
- Property damages;
- Lost wages, and
- Future economic losses.
Non-economic damages cover damages which do not have an inherent dollar amount. Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate, because there is no corresponding record which places an exact price on the damage. The types of non-economic damages you may be entitled to include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of consortium;
- Emotional pain or anguish;
- Disfigurement or disability, and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Factors which the court will consider when determining non-economic damages include the permanency of your injuries, the severity of your injuries, the disruptions your injuries have caused to your daily life, and your projected recovery time.
Who is Liable For My Injuries?
In the event of an accident, you may be able to hold the following entities liable for your damages:
Generally speaking, the driver who breached his or her legal duty to drive in a safe manner, or the driver who violated the California Vehicle Code will be held liable for your damages. Your motorcycle accident could have been the result of driver negligence on the part of the automobile driver. Perhaps the driver was tailgating, failed to yield, swerved into your lane, was exceeding the speed limit, was distracted or impaired or was talking or texting.
Poor Roadways (City or Municipality)
In some instances, poor roadway conditions may have been responsible for your motorcycle accident, include potholes, debris in the roadway, missing manhole covers, asphalt which is raised or cracked, missing traffic signs, or poor roadway design. If a governmental entity is responsible for your motorcycle accident, your attorney can help you understand the special procedures for filing a claim.
Finally, your motorcycle accident could have been the result of a manufacturing or design defect, which subsequently compromised your safety. Perhaps your motorcycle had a fuel tank malfunction which created a fire hazard, your brakes failed, affecting your ability to stop, you had a tire failure, resulting in a blowout and skid, or there were alignment issues which caused your motorcycle to weave.
Common Injuries Sustained by Motorcycle Accident Victims
If a motorcyclist survives an accident, he or she is likely to suffer serious injuries. These injuries can include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Road rash
- Disfigurement or loss of a limb
When a motorcyclist suffers traumatic injury, a lifetime of medical procedures and medical expenses can result. Multiple surgical procedures, as well as many months or years of rehabilitation can await the motorcyclist, and he or she may never be able to return to a prior career.
The bottom line is that, without the help of an experienced motorcycle attorney, an injured motorcyclist may never regain his or her prior quality of life.
Biases Facing Motorcyclists During a Trial
Motorcyclists who take their case to court in order to force the negligent party to compensate them for their injuries may find themselves facing certain biases on the part of the jury and judge. Many people still view the motorcyclist as a thrill-seeking, free-spirited, reckless person who was likely responsible for the accident—even when the evidence proves otherwise.
Such biases can even exist in the police officer who wrote the accident report, meaning the officer may go out of his or her way to find fault with the motorcyclist rather than performing a thorough, unbiased investigation. In some cases this can mean the jury never hears all the evidence because of these preconceived notions about motorcyclists.
Most Common Factors Associated with Motorcycle Accidents
There are a number of factors typically associated with motorcycle accidents including:
- Adverse road and weather conditions: Road and weather conditions are another factor in motorcycle accidents. A motorcycle has less stability and is smaller than a passenger vehicle. Road issues, which may go unnoticed by the driver of a passenger vehicle, can become a major issue for a motorcyclist. Differences in lane heights, potholes, objects in the road, and slick pavement can all spell disaster for a motorcyclist, particularly when coupled with excessive speed. While Los Angeles enjoys nice weather year round, the few times it does rain results in particularly dangerous conditions. The 405 and 101 freeway become especially slippery after a rain shower, due to the built up oil coming to the surface.
- Driver Inattention: As with passenger vehicle accidents, perhaps the most common factor associated with motorcycle accidents is driver inattention. Research on the subject has placed inattention (on the part of the driver of the passenger vehicle) as a factor in a whopping 8 out of every 10 motorcycle accidents. While there may be other factors involved in the crash, inattention tends to permeate our driving. We are a nation of multi-taskers, allowing those behaviors to creep into our driving as well. These behaviors are especially dangerous to motorcyclists. Even under the very best of conditions, motorcycles can be much more difficult to see than passenger vehicles. If a driver is distracted or inattentive, the chances of that driver seeing the motorcyclist drop significantly.
- Driver impairment: Driver impairment is a serious issue associated with motorcycle accidents. Some research places the number of motorcycle accidents influenced by alcohol or drugs at close to 30 percent, with the motorcyclist in the accident making up a significant portion of those impaired.
- Failure to Control or Inexperience: Another common factor associated with motorcycle accidents is failure to control the motorcycle. One body of research found that nearly 92 percent of motorcyclists involved in an accident were essentially without training. This means the motorcyclists was either largely self-taught, or taught by a friend or family member. With no formal training, poor riding skills can include a failure to understand the limitations of the motorcycle, failure to use appropriate defensive driving techniques, and an overall lack of braking and cornering skills. Motorcyclists should take the time to fully learn the differences between a motorcycle and an automobile, and should make sure they understand how to control the motorcycle prior to taking to the open roadways.
- Speed: Finally, at least a third of all motorcycle accidents include speed as a factor—while it may or may not be the primary factor, it may nonetheless have contributed to the accident. Drivers of sport model motorcycles—which can reach speeds of 190 mph—have a fatality rate four times that of those who ride “regular” motorcycles. High speeds are well-known for causing motorcyclists to lose control of the bike, and when you couple that with high speeds on the part of the vehicle drivers, you have a true receipt for disaster.
Automobile Drivers Fail to Look for Motorcyclists
Automobile drivers often fail to watch out for the much-smaller motorcycles on the road—a habit which can result in a serious or fatal accident. A large number of motorcycle accidents occur in the middle of an intersection when the driver of the passenger vehicle attempts to make a left-hand turn without seeing the oncoming motorcyclist (or underestimates the speed the motorcyclist is traveling).
Other motorcycle accidents occur when a driver backs from a driveway or parking lot without taking the time to look for motorcyclists.
No Protection for Motorcyclists in the Event of an Accident
Motorcycle riders simply have no protection in the event of a crash, which accounts for the higher fatality and severe injury rates. In a regular passenger car, SUV, van or pickup truck, there are any number of safety features to protect the occupants. Drivers and passengers are surrounded by a steel frame, metal and glass, and held securely by a safety belt. In newer models front and side airbags may also contribute to safety.
A motorcyclist has none of these safety features, therefore is extremely vulnerable when hit by a 3,500-pound vehicle that is traveling at a relatively high rate of speed.
Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Statistics
- According to the LA Times, motorcycle sales in the area were up 2 percent for the first quarter of 2015;
- In 2012, in Los Angeles County, 59 percent more motorcyclists were killed than in 2010;
- Experts believe the increase in motorcycle fatalities in the Los Angeles area is largely the result of inexperienced motorcyclists;
- The type of motorcycle accident in Los Angeles which most often results in a fatality for the motorcyclist are broadside accidents, in which the motorcyclist is hit squarely as he or she travels in front of a car—for example, when a motorcyclist is legally driving through an intersection, and an automobile driver illegally goes through the intersection, striking the motorcyclist broadside,
- Other types of motorcycle accidents in Los Angeles which result in motorcyclist fatalities include: hitting an object, being rear-ended, being turned over, being sideswiped, and being hit head on, and
- In 2013, California ranked third for motorcycle fatalities, with only Texas and Florida experiencing more fatal motorcycle accidents;
Why You Need a Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Perhaps even more so than following an automobile accident, if you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, you should call an experienced Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorney immediately. Your attorney will understand the many unique characteristics of the motorcycle accident, as well as the chance of existing bias on the part of the police officer and jury. Your attorney can reconstruct your accident, bringing to light all factors which could point to the negligence of the other driver.
To ensure your rights and your future are protected, call a personal injury attorney who is knowledgeable in motorcycle accidents today.